PRINCIPALS SHOULD REMEMBER TO APPRECIATE

Principals and school leaders have heavy responsibilities. One of the things they should never forget is to give credit whatever credit is due. Acknowledging the successes of staff and students should be part of this recognition. Too often, giving thanks and attributing successes to staff and congratulations to students for outcomes, can be overlooked because of work pressures.

Part of ‘smelling the roses’ for school leaders should be taking the time to look for the joy in education. The lightening of mood reflected by principals when this happens, helps build positive feelings within their schools. Staff and students like nothing better than to be appreciated. Intrinsic recognition form their leaders is returned tenfold in terms of ongoing effort that grows from them feeling good about positive recognition.

POETIC MEANDERINGS

I write onto ‘The Conversation’ which encourages readers to respond to issues. There are some who indulge a little at times through poetic expression  and responses. These might be specific or for fun.

The following have been published on conversational threads or on ‘The Conversation’ blog.

A little away from a purist educafrtional theme, but a change in direction is sometimes warrranted. This after all is my 150th post.

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POETRY IN ‘THE CONVERSATION’

EQUALITY

Ant hands out
Grasshopper, hands out.
Call that equality?

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SWEARING

Bad language should be taboo.
It is not good for me or you,
Event though we might be wild
To swear in hearing of a child.

It takes but little for to see
Said child wil copy you and me.
Bad words we utter without fear,
Response to child is a thick ear.
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POETRY

There was an alluvial miner from Quorn
A gold nugget he was going to pawn
His wife she found out
Gave him a sound clout
‘You waster’, screeched she, ‘I am gawn’.

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FROM SHORT WAKENING TO ENDLESS SLEEP

From

Birth to

Death there is

An intervening mortal period.

Of life starting with womb

Awakening and following that human.

For

Threescore years

And ten more

(Sometimes longer these days)

The mortal traverses the earth

Reaching toward the pathway’s end.

Finished

Almost before

It started out

The cycle of life

Ends, as the planet’s occupant

Returns to the eternity of sleep.

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GOOGLE THE BEST

Google is good?
Google IS good
Without ‘our’ Google
We’d be under a shroud.

You’ve opened our eyes
Informed our days
Praise be to Google
For cutting through haze.

You’re a fantastic search engine
‘Thank you’ I say
For shining a light
Down the Information Highway.

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TRUSTED COMPANION

Google is here yes Google is here
Always assisting life’s pathways to clear.

Better than most search engines I say
Google has unveiled the Information Highway

For us to spurn Google t’would be at great cost
Without Googles help the world would be lost

If you are lonely in singular state.
Turn to your Google and find you a mate

Students at uni shout hip hip hurray
Google helps us research our assignments each day

No matter who, no matter where
Our companion Google will ALWAYS be there.
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ALL WORK, NO PLAY

Work each day
As much as you can
But don’t let long hours
Lead to the ban
Of time with your family.
Relaxing each night
Is important you know
Without that shared time
Your life will wither, not grow.
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QUESTION

The NEW world they think and say
Nothing new its old to me
Ancient people before our time
To call them ‘new’ does not chime
With rhyme or reason
So I say
It’s all old, so old
Put ‘new’ away.

Don’t accept onus, me or you
They could teach us a thing or two.
Together all, mortal, alive
We have to make the world survive.
No excuses, them, you or me
We share responsibility.
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INDISPENSABLE GOOGLE

Google is our shining light
It brings cyberspace into sight
Without it’s index we would all suffer
We would never get enuffa
Understanding of what’s on line
T’would make us grizzle, whinge and whine
Yes, Google surely makes our day
As we walk the info highway.
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NO TO BULLYING

It is wrong, nay wicked and sad
To bully your peers, is evil and bad
Playing at God through your power base
Miscarries position. It is a disgrace
To denigrate others with innuendo and joke
Will backfire on bosses who wicked jibes poke
Into the faces of those who are training.
On you derision, not respect, is raining.
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OH WOE SAD, SEDUCED GAMBLER

Gambling is evil
Gaming a sin
A vile, repulsive addiction
Lets the Devil come in

It destitutes families
And ruins good lives
Exploding of families
Husdands lose wives

Children surrendered by fathers
Who say ‘family no way’
I cast you aside
To gamble each day.

A fortune you lose
Your inheritance waste
Your brain is a muddle
A blob of black paste.

The road leading to hell
Is a sad, lonely trek
But you care not a whit
For your life is a wreck.
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WHITHER POETIC FRIDAY’S

Oh poetic form
Whenst have you gone?
Were you but fleeting
A few weeks at best
Before those who rejoiced in your introduction
Became palled
At the notion of routine,
Fearing Friday
Coming ’round too rapidly,
Causing the thought of poetic chime
To be revisited all too quickly.

So too, it is with life
New ideas bring rejoicement
But quickly that subsides
As what is new becomes routine
Visiting obligation
That can become unpalatable
No longer fun filled
But more an obligation, a drag.
Fie upon us for so often
Grasping initiatives
But for fleeting minutes
Before letting go
Consigning what was
And what might be
To what is
The WPB.
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ALWAYS WRONG
AGAIN
And again
Ad infinitum
Mr Prime Minister

Whatever
Your call
You will
Always be wrong

There
Is NO
Way you
Can be right.

Others
Always know
Better that
You, the answer.

There
Is no
Straightforward way
You can find

Forever
You will
Be criticised
Until you lose.

Paradoxically
He who
Takes your
Place, will wear

Selfsame
Lampooning, ridicule.
You know
NOTHING is right.

Critics
Salve their
Consciences, because
All they can

Do is
Criticise, mock
For they
Have no answer.

Problems
Forever endure
For there
Is NO solution.
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SNIPPETS FOR EDUCATORS (12)

More thoughts that may be helpful.

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APPRECIATING VOLUNTEERS
So many teachers and educators give of their time and talents in out of hours, voluntary activities supporting students and their schools. They go the extra mile and deserve thanks and appreciation.
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SCHOOL ATMOSPHERE – HARD  TO  BUILD  AND EASILY LOST

School atmosphere is precious. It can be built but not bought. It’s establishment comes from hard work. Without dedication it can be easily lost.
Schools are like weather maps. There are highs and lows. Principals are like unto the forecast. There is a need to disperse the lows and bring on the highs. Maintaining optimal atmosphere is challenging.
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THE PRIME PURPOSE OF EDUCATION

Teachers and educators should always consider how their contributions and efforts can benefit and enrich student learning outcomes. What they can do to build the school collegiate is also important.

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REPUTATION – LONG ON DEVELOPMENT, SO EASILY LOST
Building a school’s reputation takes time and effort. It requires the focus and concerted effort of staff. It is added to by the contribution of parents and students. And it can be so easily lost.
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ENRICHING STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES

Teachers and educators should always consider how their contributions and efforts can benefit and enrich student learning outcomes. What they can do to build the school collegiate is also important.

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KNOWING STUDENTS

As a principal, educational leader or teacher, make every effort to know your students and give them every opportunity to know and appreciate you. Knowing and speaking to students by name is a must.

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TEACHERS SHOULD SET STANDARDS

Teachers  should “model” for their students. This extends to include dress standards maintained by teachers in schools.

In my opinion it would be a good thing if the state and territory departments work to establish dress codes for teachers which were mandated. At one stage that used to be the case in some of the states.

With the passing of time departments have vested confidence in teachers that they will dress appropriately and according to standard setting. For most teachers follow a reasonable and sensible dress code, there are some who don’t enter in the correction.

Correcting teachers by advising on dress standards can be difficult and embarrassing. Where practicable it is advisable that female teachers should be spoken to about dress standards by a female member of the senior team. Likewise if mile teachers need advice that is best offered by a male member of the senior staff (if indeed there is a male in the senior leadership cohort).

I believe that the teacher dress does not need to be “over the top”. Neither should people dress scantily or inappropriately because this let’s the standard of our teaching profession down quite badly in the eyes of the public. Whether we like it or not, members of the community do talk about the way we dress and comment on our general behaviour and deportment.

Recently (2014) the New South Wales Department of Education introduced minimal standards of this for teachers which will be regulated in that state. This may have been because of a need for this issue to be addressed. Whether other departments will follow in a similar direction remains to be seen. It is to be hoped however, that teachers will dress in a way that shows their respect about profession so that regulation is not necessary.

I believe at the end of the day, teachers are modelling and setting standards for students. That is something we need to do in a respectful and empathetic manner. While it may be considered not proper to talk about these sorts of things the way we dress and our quality of deportment as teachers is certainly something that students and the public take into account when considering teachers and the profession.
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WATCH OUT FOR TRENDINESS

Education is exciting, often because of the chance to innovate and try out new ideas. However, it is important to consider and study the merit of new ideas. ‘Reform’ and ‘initiative’ are words often overdone.

Education that bounces from one new idea to the next, to the next in rapid succession, can present a destabilising and hard to follow classroom experience for children. There seems no end to the plethora of ideas, approaches and priorities that come along.

It is important that schools and teachers apply a filter to suggestions of change. The pros and cons of issues need to be considered. To grasp at something new for the sake of its novelty is unwise.

Schools and staff who take and consider ideas and change suggestions are wise. This is where the value of collaboration and conversation comes to the fore.  Within every group, there are those who want to run with change, others who prefer dialogue and careful consideration and a third group who dig in and avoid change at all costs. from this delightful mix, school organisation evolves.

Some thoughts:

* Discuss issues with colleagues and also be a sounding board for them.
* Read and research new initiatives.
* Make a list of the pros and cons relative to change in teaching approaches.
* Discuss ideas with people who may have trialled them.
* Make the subject one for discussion at unit meetings and possibly whole staff
meetings.
* Consider whether changes will build on what has gone before, or whether
they will mean starting all over again in particular areas. There is a lot to be
said for ‘steady state’ or incremental development.
* Take into account budgetary implications of change. Programs that are resource           heavy can finish up costing schools a lot of money.
* Consider if change addresses major learning needs or if it is simply about        embellishment or ‘prettying the edges’ of learning; is it about superficiality or
substance?

Change ought not be resisted by habit. Neither should it be blindly accepted for change’s sake. Consider new ideas on their merit including thinking, reading and discussion with others.

Importantly, consider that change builds on what has gone before. To throw out everything that has been developed, using change as an excuse to ‘start all over’ would be the extreme of foolishness.

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THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY

Teachers and educators should always consider how their contributions and efforts can benefit and enrich student learning outcomes. What they can do to build the school collegiate is also important.
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COMPUTER FOCUSSED LEARNING HAS ITS LIMITATIONS

It seems that the thrust of education is toward developing opportunities for students to progress  through  the practise of technology supported learning . Devices from electronic smart boards to computers, iPads and other devices are front and centre. More and more schools are developing a “bring your open device” policy when it comes to technology. It seems that the children are increasingly immersed in technologically focused learning.

There is a place for technology in our schools. However if devices replace teachers  it will be to the detriment of education. The best learning outcomes are achieved through direct interaction.  When using computers and iPads, children can easily log out of learning and go onto some amusement or games application.

Approach to lessons and learning needs to be based on time and organisation. There needs to be a patterned and ordered approach to  learning.  Taking teachers out of the equation and replacing them with computer controlled programs, detracts from education.

The emphasis in the NT is toward Direct Instruction (DI).  Concern about poor educational outcomes has lead to a revival of this instructional method.  “The Direct instruction strategy is highly teacher-directed and is among the most commonly used. This strategy is effective for providing information or developing step-by-step skills. It also works well for introducing other teaching methods, or actively involving students in knowledge construction.” (Instructional strategies online, Saskatoon Public Schools)

Explicit teaching, lectures, drills, specific questioning, demonstration and the guiding of listening, reading, viewing and thinking are direct instructional practices. DI is about close interaction of teachers with students to enhance teaching and learning opportunities.  Computers and iPads by their very nature can put distance between students and teachers. If their use is not carefully managed they can become a distraction.

A very important part of teaching and learning is the way body language and facial expression impact on classroom outcomes. Teachers can sense confidence about what if being taught through student responses. Similarly, students can sense how their teachers feel about work being completed. Shared personal contact within classrooms is a very important part of learning. Computer based education does not allow students or teachers to appreciate body language or facial expressions.

Technology has its place in education as a support to learning. However classroom focus should be about interaction between teachers and students. Replacing teachers with computers will impact negatively on the quality of learning and educational outcomes.
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VIGNETTES SERIES 18: ‘PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY’ and ‘VALUE OF SHORT EXCURSIONS’

VIGNETTES SERIES 18: ‘PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY’ and ‘VALUE OF SHORT EXCURSIONS’
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VIGNETTE 53

DEVELOP A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY

When they begin their training, preservice teachers are often asked to think about a philosophy, that is a personal belief position, underpinning why it is they have decided teaching is for them. Some people think that it’s a waste of time to develop a philosophy and that such reflection is not very important. They could not be more wrong.

Personal philosophy is the essence upon which a career builds. It’s really a foundation stone, THE foundation stone, where it all starts and from which one’s training and career evolve. It is the starting point to the teaching journey. It is therefore important for preservice teachers and those starting out to spend time developing a belief statement upon which their future bills.

That statement may be short and pertinent or somewhat longer. One of the best and most meaningful philosophies I ever read was that of a teacher from 30 years ago. Her philosophy, the first page of her work program, was simple yet significant. It was five words long, “Teaching is a kind of loving”. That summed up her attitude and her desire to be a person who was there for others. Most certainly others came before herself.

Others might have a statement that embraces a sense of mission. It’s not unusual for statements are philosophy to be defined as “mission statements”.

Many years ago when a relatively young principal, I was invited to attend a leadership development program. We were asked to develop a mission statement of 25 words or less. Until then i knew where i wanted to go but had never defined that in terms of ‘mission’.

I spent considerable time thinking and reflecting on my priorities as an educator, as a family man, and as a person in this world.

My mission statement, from 1983, has been with me since that time. I have it on the back of my card.

It reads:

“To fulfil and be fulfilled in organisational mode – family, work, recreation.
To acquit my responsibilities with integrity.
To work with a smile in my heart.”

This precept has been my guiding philosophy for the past 32 years and something I regularly reflect upon.

Please consider the importance of a defining philosophy or sense of purpose and mission.
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VIGNETTE. 54

SHORT EXCURSIONS

Excursions can play a very important part in extending educational understandings for children. To study in classrooms and to learn in the traditional way and also through online all library extension is fine. If children can be taken out on visits to places being studied, that really helps. To “see” what one is being taught and to observe things as they happen in action reinforces and cements learning. Excursions can help make learning live.

There is a need to prepare children for excursions. Ideally, excursions should be the middle segment of the lesson or learning sequence. The initial elements of lessons lead into the excursion, with follow up after the excursion tying the venture into learning outcomes. All excursions should be relevant. There is at times a tendency for excursions to be stand alone affairs with disconnection from teaching.

Binding excursions into the text of learning is part of the warp and weft of the learning fabric. These activities have a meaningful part to play in teaching and learning. They can enrich the program and add value to educational outcomes.
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